Thinking of a Career Change? Transferable Skills Can Help.

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Changing careers is a tough process. It can take you a long time to figure out if you actually want a total career shift. Sometimes you may wonder if you feel dissatisfied with your job because of your work environment, co-workers, lack of variety or many other reasons. It’s always tough to decide.

Once you decide to take the plunge and decide to change careers, the first thing you should do is think about your transferable skills. Transferable skills are experience and knowledge you’ve already developed in one situation, either during your education or previous experience, which can be transferred to a completely different job.

It’s crucial to think about your transferable skills because they can get you started on your next career before you’ve had to take the time to go back to school or take a lower-level job just to get experience in your chosen field.

1. Determine Your Transferable Skills

The first step is to figure out what your transferable skills are. Usually, these skills fall into one of three categories: People (includes Relationship Building, Communicating, Teaching), Data (Recordkeeping, Researching, Compiling Data) and Things (Computer Operating, Repairs, Building).

Let’s say you’re a Teacher thinking about becoming a Marketer.

Some transferable skills of a teacher would be: designing lesson plans, presenting, training, creativity (i.e. creating engaging lessons), building relationships, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, communications, problem-solving, etc. A lot of these skills would fall within the People Category as shown above, which is very useful because people skills are used in a LOT of careers.

That’s a lot of skills! We use a lot of abilities every day we work, but we don’t think about (or even give ourselves credit for) these things. These general skills, however, are necessary for lots of careers, not just your current job.

2. Check out the Skills Required for Your New Career

I just quickly searched online for Marketing roles. Here is a list of requirements and experience I found as part of a random Marketing Specialist position.

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Able to work well with others and in a team environment
  • Strong project coordination skills, proven ability to manage multiple priorities and deadlines
  • Excellent organizational and administrative skills with strong attention to detail a must
  • Self-motivated with creative problem-solving skills and can-do attitude
  • Strong initiative and results orientated

Sound familiar? It’s easy to see how a lot of the skills I just listed match the description of transferable skills that a teacher would have. 

All of these are transferable skills. You don’t need specific marketing knowledge to gain these competencies. It would be easy to learn how to communicate, coordinate projects, solve problems and develop a strong attention to detail in many other industries besides marketing.

The fundamental solution to this is creating a resume that highlights the areas where you have transferable skills and presents them in an appealing way to a recruiter or hiring manager.

3. Work On Developing the Skills You Don’t Have

Of course, you won’t have all the skills needed for the new career path you’re interested in. If you were a teacher wanting to become a marketer, you likely wouldn’t have strong knowledge of marketing concepts, marketing strategies, software, digital marketing or other competencies that are important when searching for a position in the current job market.

This is where it may be important to consider heading back to school, whether you sign up for a full-time course, enroll in part-time courses, or even sign up for online education.  You could also learn new skills through volunteer work or contract work in the field you’re interested. There are many ways to start a new career, and one of the most important ways to get started is to leverage the transferable skills you already have.

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